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Journeys

Paro to Thimphu tour

Tour Overview

The flight to Paro crosses the Himalaya Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it's possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well.

1. Tashichho dzong

The Tashichho Dzong is a Buddhist monastery cum fortress at the northern edge of Thimpu the capital city of Bhutan. The Dzong was built on the westernbank of the river Wang Chu, and has historically served at the seat of the Druk Desi or the Dharma Raja of Bhutan's government. After the kings assumed power in 1907 this post was combined with that of the king and Thimphu severed as the summer capital ofthe kingdom before becoming the full time capital of Bhutan. The original Thimphu Dzong (the Dho-Ngyen Dzong) is said to have been constructed in 1216 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa. And was later taken over by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo before the Dzong was conquered by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who found the Dzong to be too small and expanded it to what is now known as the Tashichho dzong is also called the "fortress of glorious religion." It was erected in 1641 and was subsequently rebuilt by King Jigme DorjiWangchuck in the 1960s.

The Dzong has been seat of the Royal government since 1952 and presently houses the Throne room and the Kings secretariat. The Tashichho dzong is also home to several ministries of the Bhutanese government, and the Central Monk Body which is the apex organization of the country's main spiritual order. The monument welcomes visitors during the Thimphu Tsechu festival which is held in autumn each year. The Dzongs main structure is a two striped quadrangle with 3 storied towers on eachof its four cornersFolk heritage museum. The folk heritage museum was open to the general public in 2001 upon completion. It treasures troves of culture and rich Bhutanese heritage provide rich insights into the Bhutanese ethos.

2. The folk heritage museum

The folk heritage museumis housed in a replica traditional Bhutanese house learn first-hand about Bhutan's rich cultural traditions, its deeply rooted heritage which spans thousands of years and the Bhutanese way of life. The tour of this almost living museum will also give you a glimpse onto how many rural folk of the country live today following the ancient Bhutanese ways. National memorial chorten The National Memorial was built by Bhutan's third king, H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who is also known as the "Father of modern Bhutan." He wanted to erect a monument carrying the message of world peace and prosperity. However, he was unable to give shape to his idea in his lifetime due to pressures of state and other regal responsibilities. After his untimely demise in 1972, the Royal Family and Cabinet resolved to fulfill his wishes and erect a memorial that would perpetuate his memory and also serve as a monument to eternal peace, harmony and tranquility The National Memorial Chorten was gifted to the nation on 28 July, 1974.

3. The National Memorial Chorten

The exquisite wall paintings and the delicately carved statues reflect deep insights into Buddhist spirituality and a rich tradition of prayer and learning. The National Memorial Chorten is known as the 'most visible religious landmark in Bhutan'. The Chorten wasconsecrated by His Holiness, the Late Dudjorn Rinpoche. Unlike other Stupas the Chorten is not a shrine for the mortal of the late King. The Chorten on contains a photograph of the King in full ceremonial attire. The King had intend for the Choten to be "a Chorten that represents the mind of Bhuddha " The national Memorial Chorten is located in the center of the capital city, Thimphu and is designed like a Tibetan style Chorten. The Chorten is patterned of the classical Stupa design with a pyramidal pillar crowned by a crescent moon and sun. One of the most distinct features of the Chorten is its outwards flaring rounded part that makes the Chorten look more like a vase rather than the classical dome. The interior of the Chorten has a large number of paintings of Tantric deities, in explicit sexual poses that sometimes can be a little disconcerting to visitors.

4. Kuensel Phodrang

Kuensel phodrangThe Kuensel Phodrang or the Buddha point is the world's largest sitting Buddha statue, the statue is 167 feet high. The statue is situated on top of a hill overlooking the city of Timphu, it can be accessed by road and is about 15 minutes away from the city's center. The word Kuensel means everything is clear and from this place you will sure enjoy a great view of the Thimphu Valley on both sides. The statute will house a temple inside it, the statue and its adjoining car park and recreational center are currently under construction and is expected to be ready by December 2012. The statue is constructed out of bronze and is studded with many semi-precious stones. Since they are no factories in country that can make such a large bronze cast structure, statute is being manufactured in China and the pieces are brought to Bhutan and are assembled here.

On the drive to the statue the steep winding hill road offers an unparalleled view of the city of Thimphu and is an excellent place to capture a view of the city especially after dark. A journalist once described the view as "seeing an osasis of light in the desert of darkness "as the city light of Thimphu shine very bright in an otherwise dark Thimphu valley.

5. Motithang takin preserve

Motithang takin preserve The Motithang Takin Preserve also known as the Thimphu Zoo by many is a small natural preserve for the Takin Bhutan’s national animal. It was originally a mini zoo, but it was converted in a preserve later on as the Takin. The mini zoo contained a small number of Takin but the King of Bhutan later decreed that it was improper for a Buddhist nation to keep an animal in captivity. The animals were set free and the zoo was shut down, but for some reason the Takin refused to leave the area for the forests nearby. Instead the animals were frequently found roaming around the streets of the capital city in search for food. As a result the government decided to demarcate an 8 acre fenced location as the Motithang Takin Preserve. The preserve is a forested preserve that mimics the Takin’s natural habitat, in addition to the Takin there are a few musk deer and barking deer that live inside the preserve.

There are plans to expand the preserves collection to include other rarely seen animals that live in Bhutan, currently the preserve plans to add the Red Panda and the Himalayan Serow to the preserve. National institute of zorig chusum The art and crafts currently taught in Bhutan, were introduced to the country in the 15th century by Trenton Pema Lingpa. Trenton Pema Lingpa also known as the Great Treasure National Institute for Zorig Chusum -Discoverer is credited to have introduced these art forms to the people of Bhutan. These traditional crafts are a representation of the centuries of knowledge and ability that was been handed down to master craftsmen and artisan through each generation. Bhutan’s unique artistic tradition has played a vital role in shaping the countries distinct culture and heritage. It was realized that this unique and priceless heritage of the nation need to be protected and promoted with the strong patronage of the royal government. With this vision in mind the royal institute for Zoring Chusum was established in the year 1971 to train the youth in the 13 traditional Arts and Crafts of Bhutan. The institute now falls under the aegis of the National Technical Training Authority which was established in 1990 to ensure high quality vocational training for thepeople of the country. The institute has now been operational for almost 40 years and has taught students the arts of painting, embroidery, calligraphy, sculptingand wood carving. Changangkha Lhakhang (monastery) The Chagkha Lhakahng temple is a early medieval Buddhist temple in the capital city Thimphu. The temple is situated on a ridge overlooking the city, near Mohitang on the outskirts of Thimphu. The temple is the oldest temple in Thimphu and was constructed by Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo in the 12 century AD. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo is also the founder of the Drukpa Kaygo School of Buddhism. The Lhakhang’s central deity is Chenirizig. There is a large statue of Chenrizig, the 11 headed, thousand arm manifestation of Avolokiteshwara. The prayer booksin the temple are larger in size compared to the usual Buddhist texts. There are also large prayer wheels and paintings in the walls of the temple. The temple offers an excellent view of the city of Thimphu from its courtyard.Jungshi handmade paper factory The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory is a small paper factory located in Thimphu that produces paper using traditional Bhutanese methods. The paper products produced at the factory are made from Daphne or Mulberry plant bark. On you visit to the factory you will see the process from the beginning to the end. The process starts with people pulling the bark off the plant to the process of cooking to create wood pulp to the creation of the final product. There is a small shop at the factory that sells a variety of paper and stationary that is produced from paper made here.

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